Treats and Tragedies on the Road: Seattle 2013 - Day 1

The alarm went off at 4:00 A.M.  I know this must be true, so I can only assume that some kind of horrible little imp scurried in and hit the snooze button twice, because I awoke at 4:18.  Since our scheduled departure time was 4:45 I immediately raced to the shower, thankful that as a male all I had to do was lather up, rinse off, and throw on some clothes and a baseball cap.  Once that was done, I started throwing anything which struck me as being necessary for the three days to follow into a backpack and a gym bag, trying to remember why I had thought it would be a good idea to pack in the morning rather than before the four hours worth of sleep I had managed to get.

All told, we were only about 20 minutes late leaving town.  Our merry band of travelers consisted of my roommate, my roommate's sister, my roommate's tween daughter, and of course yours truly behind the wheel.  After quick stops at Starbucks and Dutch Bros. (because I don't like Starbucks, and yes I'm aware of the irony), we finally hit the freeway.  To be honest, that's all I remember until we stopped at Baker Truck Corral to use their disgusting bathrooms (the men's smells overwhelmingly of urine, and apparently the ladies'  room reeks of marijuana) and buy some of their repulsive coffee.  After that it was all junk food, rest stops and bad jokes until we reached Snoqualmie Falls.

This is a waterfall.  Yes, I will be talking about food soon.

Snoqualmie is beautiful, and gave us a chance to stretch our legs and kill some time since our check-in time at the hotel was still a couple of hours away.  Making it into the city itself took quite a bit longer than we anticipated, as there were two accidents in the tunnel and one just past it on the bridge.  Once we had survived that and made it to the hotel, it took half an hour for them to find our reservation in their system since it had been entered under the wrong name.  The next unpleasant surprise was being told by the valet parking attendant (who looked like one of the backup guys in Fishbone) that they were out of spaces.  Since we had requested the valet parking package when we reserved, this lead to a terse exchange before the attendant told me that even though he didn't have a space for us, he was going to find one anyway to make things right.  I still don't know where our car ended up.  Maybe at the attendant's house, or at one of the nearby parking garages that charge a third of what we were being charged by the hotel.  Finally we got to go upstairs, dump our bags, get cleaned up (once the non-scalp hairs had been cleaned out of the tub), and start thinking about dinner.

Quinn's Pub

Before we headed out, I suggested having dinner at Quinn's Pub the first night.  It's a hearty dining kind of a place, and I thought it would be just the thing to set me right after eight or nine hours on the road.  The Roommate backed me up on this, and her sister was interested in the menu as well, so that's where we ended up.  Unfortunately, it was also about a mile away, mostly uphill.  But hey, everything worth having is worth suffering a little bit for, and this was definitely worth it.  Quinn's is my kind of place: dark, cozy, and with a focus on good booze and meat.  The Roommate, who shares my love of burgers, chose the Painted Hills Beef Burger, well done (unfortunately).  Little Sister wanted both the Pub Salad and the Wild Boar Sloppy Joe, but didn't think she could eat all of that.  Since both of the things I really wanted were "small plate" items, I offered to split the sloppy joe with her so long as we added the optional duck egg.  Sadly, Quinn's has no children's menu, and our notoriously picky tween dining companion had to settle for the Housemade Pretzel.  As for me, I ordered the Roasted Bone Marrow and the Foie Gras Frites.  And a glass of Buffalo Trace on the rocks.

Pub Salad

Alas, I have no pictures of the Roommate's dinner, or her daughter's pretzel.  The pretzel was an oversight on my part, not much to look at per se but still a sad omission considering how absolutely scrumptious the accompanying Welsh Rarebit was.  I did take a picture of the burger (half a pound of beef with crispy bacon, mayo, and white cheddar on brioche), but you could see Roommate in the picture and she didn't like it, so that's that.  She wasn't terribly impressed because the burger was apparently overly well done, so much so that it "tore up the roof of my mouth like Cap'n Crunch" and came with no veggies other than the hand-cut fries on the side.  Little Sister was happier with her salad, which consisted of gem lettuce, roasted ham, oven-dried tomatoes, egg, Gouda and green goddess dressing.  I only tried the ham, which was yummy, but I loved that the eggs were left a little soft as well.

Roasted Bone Marrow

I'm still trying to make up my mind exactly how I feel about the bone marrow.  In and of itself, it's just really fatty, buttery and beefy tasting.  My issue was with the presentation.  The red onion marmalade was just fine, and so was the parsley salad (if used sparingly), but the herb and bread crumb topping was a little overpowering and reminded me of turkey dressing.  Still, with some of extra stuff scraped away and the marrow itself smeared on the tasty grilled bread provided, it was pretty good.  I'm just not sure it's as big a deal as some of the gourmets out there make it out to be, especially once the likely horrifying nutritional stats are taken into account.  I'm all for excess, I just think the dish really has to be worth it.

Foie Gras Frites

And the Foie Gras Frites are worth it.  Even though I know that writing about this dish will likely lose me some readers and possibly draw a lot of hateful comments and e-mails, I don't regret a thing.  There are certain food items that get people up in arms, with two of the biggies being foie gras and veal, and this dish contains both.  Quinn's frites are "handcut fries, fontina fonduta & veal demi-glace", basically a high-end poutine.  The foie version raises the stakes by adding shaved foie gras and foie sauce.  I'll be honest here, I would love to believe that Quinn's is sourcing crate-free veal and ad libitum foie gras, especially since both are being used merely for garnish and sauces, but I'm not going to kid myself. I tried this dish to see if all the fuss that has been made over foie for all of these years was worth it, and while that's far too subjective to be determined by one person, I can tell you that that the dish was incredible.  Purse sensory overload.  The rich brown sauce, the amazingly flavorful cheese, and the liver so delicate that you could actually watch it melt down into the fries, combined to create something unlike anything I've ever had before.  Even the best poutine I've had seems like a fast food knock-off by comparison.  I loved it intensely, and yes, I hate myself a little for loving it.  If you've never had it, it's basically the culinary equivalent of the one-night stand you know damn well you shouldn't have had, and if you haven't had one of those either, then I have no other way to describe it to you.

Wild Boar Sloppy Joe with duck egg

Another glass of bourbon to dull the shame (bless Quinn's and their 2 oz. pours), and it was on to the main course.  The sloppy joe, much like the burger, is a pretty straightforward meat and bread affair.  There's a little fried onion involved, and some fried sage and a grilled Fresno pepper as garnish, and that's it.  It's nothing I would have thought to order just a couple of years ago, but luckily Archie's Place showed me that a sloppy joe doesn't have to taste like ketchup and brown sugar.  This sandwich is a delicious mess that probably should just be served open-faced, because the bun isn't going to save you.  This is definitely a job for a knife and fork.  The sauce, not really sweet at all and actually just a touch spicy, takes care of the biggest issue faced when cooking wild boar, namely drying it out.  Texture and tenderness are hard to incorporate in a boar dish, but Quinn's pulled it off.  And do I even have to tell you that the luscious egg yolk running down into all of this makes it exponentially better?  Quinn's is kind of famous for this sandwich, and they have every reason to be.

I walked by this place twice, but sadly didn't eat there...

Tired, sore, buzzed, and full of fat and shame, I accompanied the ladies back to the hotel.  By the time we reached our room, Little Sister and I were already talking about all of the other things on the menu we would like to try.  For a while, we actually contemplated a return trip to Quinn's to try their more extensive dinner menu (we had been there during the tail end of their lunch period) instead of trying another new place the next day.  The Tween pretty much passed out straightaway and the Roommate was ready to put her feet up as well, but Little Sister and I were craving a nightcap.  I decided to use the opportunity to scope out Fadó, an Irish-style pub and restaurant that was also high on my "must try" list.  Over our drinks (a Bushmills with a Harp chaser for me, a Guinness draught for her), we decided we dug the place and their brunch menu enough to drag the rest of our party here the next day, that the little man who tried to pick a fight with me from out of the blue while we were walking to the bar was probably drunk, and that it was time to go back to the hotel and pass out for a while.

Dessert of ex-champions

Quinn's Pub
Food:  A couple of misses and a whole lot of hits.  A
Value:  Pretty damned expensive if you go with the high-end stuff, but totally worth it.  A-
Service:  I was too entranced with my meal to notice, but they didn't piss me off...  A
Atmosphere:  Dim but not dark, cozy but not confined, and lots of pleasant people.  A
Final Grade:  A

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